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State Senator Makes Bipartisan List of AARP Capitol Caregivers

Sen. Bledsoe (left) receives a certificate from Ness Nehus (right), AARP Arkansas Associate State Director-Advocacy. Photo courtesy of AARP Arkansas

AARP honors 2017 class of states’ elected officials for championing family caregivers

LITTLE ROCK—To recognize integral work to support family caregivers in Arkansas, AARP names State Sen. Cecile Bledsoe of Rogers as a 2017 “Capitol Caregiver,” a bipartisan group of nearly 100 elected officials from more than 30 states.

These leaders have advanced policies to support family caregivers, who help their parents, spouses and other loved ones live independently at home and in the community — where they want to be. Sen. Bledsoe is honored for her leadership in sponsoring Act 203 of 2017. The Act makes telehealth, also known as telemedicine, more accessible to Arkansans, particularly Arkansas caregivers.

“AARP thanks Sen. Bledsoe for championing telehealth reform this year,” says Charlie Wagener, State President of AARP Arkansas, which serves more than 310,000 members age 50 and over in Arkansas. “She provided key leadership to pass Act 203 this year and help make the big responsibilities of family caregivers in Arkansas a little bit easier.”

Act 203 helps break down the barriers that prevent use of telehealth — digital information and communication technologies, like computers and mobile devices, that help family caregivers manage their own or their loved one’s health.

More than 452,000 Arkansans provide unpaid care for their older parents, spouses, children and adults with disabilities, and other loved ones — valued at about $4.7 billion annually. They help with bathing and dressing, meal preparation, managing finances, transportation, grocery shopping and more.

“Family caregivers provide invaluable care to their loved ones,” Wagener said. “And they need our support.”

AARP presented a “Capitol Caregiver” certificate to Sen. Bledsoe outside the Arkansas Senate chambers.

Act 203 represents another step toward making the big responsibilities family caregivers face a little bit easier. The Arkansas Lay Caregiver Act (Act 1013 of 2015) helps ease the transition from hospital to home for patients and their caregivers. Act 1013 does four simple but important things — Designate, Notify, Consult and Demonstrate. The Act requires hospitals to:

  • Provide each patient or the patient’s legal guardian the opportunity to designate a caregiver;
  • Notify the patient’s caregiver of the patient’s discharge or transfer prior to the discharge or transfer;
  • Consult with the designated caregiver to prepare the caregiver for the patient’s aftercare needs, including giving the caregiver the opportunity to ask questions; and
  • If necessary, demonstrate tasks to the caregiver necessary for aftercare.

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